Elect for holiday fun in Chicago this November

Saturday’s Wisch List newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)


By Dave Wischnowsky

Come Tuesday when you step up to the voting booth, you’ll have the option of turning to the left or turning to the right.

But in Chicago this November, you don’t have to pick a side. You can vote for holiday fun all month long, and then elect to enjoy even more. With that in mind, here are your Holiday Party candidates …

Nov. 10-11: Veterans Day Ceremony

Vote for: Honoring those who have served in our military. Nestled serenely along the Chicago Riverwalk between State and Wabash, the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial will host Veterans Day Remembrance ceremonies at 11 a.m. on both Nov. 10-11.

Elect to: Also visit the National Veterans Art Museum on Nov. 11 to celebrate the opening of its new location at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. The free event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and includes the debut of the new exhibition “Welcome Home.”

Nov. 16: Ice skating at Millennium Park

Vote for: Treating your withdrawals from the NHL lockout by getting in some of your own skating – not hockey sticks allowed – beneath the beautiful setting of some of the city’s most beautiful skyscrapers. Skating is free and skate rentals are available for $10. The outdoor rink will remain open through mid-March.

Elect to: Swing by Park Grill – located at the gateway to Millennium Park along Michigan Avenue – after working up an appetite on the rink. Check for restaurant hours.

Nov. 17: Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Vote for: Celebrating the city’s official kickoff to the holiday season which includes a wide array of family-friendly activities – and, you know, shopping – along the Mag Mile, beginning in Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan) at 11 a.m.

Elect to: Stick around for the Parade of Lights at 5:30 p.m. when the procession turns on the holiday lights along Michigan Avenue.

Nov. 21: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Daley Plaza

Vote for: Marveling at the 99th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Daley Plaza. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. with live performances and holiday music leading up to 5 p.m. when the switch is flipped and the tree begins sparkling.

On Nov. 21, Santa Claus will be available in Daley Plaza from 6 to 8 p.m., with special hours on Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. From Nov. 23 through Dec. 16, Santa’s House will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

During Christmas week, Dec, 17-23, Santa’s hours will run daily from 11 a.m. to 8: p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Elect to: Also visit the Christkindlmarket, Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival, which also opens on Nov. 21 in Daley Plaza. The fest includes European arts and crafts, as well as brats, spiced wine and more. Visit for hours.

Nov. 23: ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Vote for: Working off a few of those Thanksgiving calories by strolling about Lincoln Park Zoo. On Nov. 23, the zoo (2001 N. Clark St.) begins the annual ZooLights celebration, during which it decks out its grounds and trees with holiday lights.

The free ZooLights also includes activities such as ice carving demonstrations and a Holiday Express Train and runs through Jan. 6. Visit for specific days and hours.

Elect to: Make it a full day of festivities by visiting the eclectic Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) at 4 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 for “Sing-a-long Sound of Music.”

The screening of the classic film features on-screen lyrics so the audience – many dressed in costume – can sing along with Julie Andrews and the Von Trapps. Visit for more information.